Preparing For A Weekend Sailing Adventure
Tens of thousands of Americans own sailboats, and it’s easy to see why. They are ideal homes away from home after a hectic working week, and they can be perfect for weekend adventures with friends and family. You might even enjoy them as a long-term investment or a second home.
However, like any home or transport, you generally have to put time and effort into them before enjoying them in earnest. Just as you would get your vehicle ready for a road trip, don’t forget to do some of the following things while planning a weekend trip away on your sailboat.
Check Your Sail
It’s too easy to neglect your sail when you’re focused on ensuring everyone in your travel party is having a good time. However, don’t underestimate the importance of sail checks and maintenance to avoid frustrating problems like battens ripping through the sail or falling out.
If you notice missing stitching, yellowing sail cloth, UV degradation, and improperly tensioned batten pockets, consider contacting reputable sails stockists like Far East Sails. They can assist with some of the best cruising sails and drifter sails so that you can set off with confidence.
Pack Sufficient Fuel
Sailboats rely on sails, but that doesn’t mean you won’t use your onboard motor from time to time. Pack sufficient fuel as a ‘just in case’ measure. While you might not use it, you can enjoy much-needed peace of mind knowing you have it if you cannot rely on your sail for some reason.
Prepare Your First Aid Kit
You can’t drive to the nearest medical center or hospital when you’re out at sea. While a comprehensive first aid kit can’t always help in a medical emergency, it can potentially be helpful for managing symptoms and stopping problems from becoming more severe.
At a minimum, your first aid kit should have bandages, painkillers, antibacterial creams, and medication for motion sickness. With these few items, you will likely be able to take care of cuts, scratches, aches, and pains, without requesting outside assistance.
Check for Leaks
We expect our sailboats to function as they should, which means you might not perform thorough inspections as much as recommended. If you’re getting ready for a weekend adventure, don’t forget to check the hull for leaks.
Boats develop leaks more often than you might think, particularly around perished O-rings and loose rivets. Not only can leaks damage your running gear and the boat, but severe leaks might put your friends and family at risk in the water.
Start inspecting the interior on the hull sides and look for water stains on the headliners. If you notice water puddles under berths, cabin soles with discoloring, and damaged paneling, these can all indicate leaks that require repairs.
Make Sure You Have a Fire Extinguisher
You might assume a fire would never affect your sailboat because you’re on the water. You might even think you’re more likely to encounter a fire on a power boat than a sailboat because power boats rely on fuel.
However, gas and electrical fires can happen on sailboats too, and you’ll want to be prepared if they do. Before setting off on a weekend adventure, make sure you have approved fire extinguishers in working condition. These should be turned upside down regularly to stop the dry powder within them from hardening and clumping together.
It’s also essential to mitigate the risks associated with the parts of your sailboat that might be more likely to catch fire, such as the electrical systems and gas cylinders. Always check fuse blocks for corrosion and clean the contacts. Don’t forget to inspect circuit breakers and electrical equipment to ensure they’re operating correctly. If you’ve noticed something keeps blowing a fuse or tripping the circuit, find out why it’s doing that rather than simply jumping the breaker or fuse.
If you have gas cylinders aboard for cooking your freshly-caught fish, be careful with their handling and use. Install a gas detector on your boat, use approved piping, and isolate and secure your gas cylinders when you’re not using them. When changing gas cylinders, don’t forget to check that the valves are off before disconnecting them and ensuring the full gas cylinder is entirely secure before connecting it.
Inspect Inflatable Rafts and Dinghies
Many travelers put measures in place to keep themselves safe while traveling, such as theft-proof backpacks and emergency money cards. Safety measures can be equally crucial on sailboats, with many skippers carrying inflatable rafts and dinghies behind their sailboats in case of an emergency.
You might take it for granted that these will be in excellent condition at all times because they haven’t been needed, but that might not be the case. Check them for leaks, ensure they’re strapped on tight, and consider testing them in the water before taking them on a days-long adventure.
Spending your spare weekends on a sailboat can be luxurious, and you might be eager to rush off and get in some much-needed rest and relaxation as soon as possible. However, preparing for a sailing adventure shouldn’t be rushed. Put safety first by taking some of these actions above, and you might enjoy a much safer trip on the water with your loved ones.
Image: Johannes Plenio